For the first time in a general election, more Orange County voters this year cast absentee ballots than went to the polls, according to the County Registrar of Voters.

With just a few hundred votes from the Nov. 2 election left to count, official election statistics show that 55.3 percent (or 897,469) of Orange County’s 1,621,934 registered voters cast ballots.

Among those who voted, 28.7 percent voted by mail and 26.6 percent traveled to the polls. Orange County’s numbers follow a statewide trend toward absentee voting.

The June primary was the first major election in which more Orange County voters voted absentee than at precincts. In that election, according to figures on the California Secretary of State’s website, only Los Angeles County and 10 small counties had more voters at the polls than those who voted by mail.

Statewide voting patterns for this election won’t be available until the election is certified Dec. 10.

But voting by mail has been an increasing trend since about 2002.

Beyond the absentee record, the election, as far as the mechanics of it, was unremarkable, said Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley.

“For a general election, I think it went very well,” Kelley said.

It also was an election which saw a number of incumbent city council members and members of sanitary, school and other special districts defeated in their re-election bids.

City council incumbents who failed to win re-election included:

Don McCay in Buena Park; Joel Bishop in Dana Point; Cheryl Brothers and Guy Carrozzo in Fountain Valley; Craig Scott in Laguna Hills; Richard Dixon in Lake Forest; Greg Sowards in Placentia; Joe Anderson in San Clemente; Mark Nielsen and Londres Uso in San Juan Capistrano; Jim Rheins in Villa Park; and Jan Horton in Yorba Linda.

In Rancho Santa Margarita, Councilman Neil C. Blais trailed by only 20 votes in his bid to retain his seat. And in Los Alamitos, challenger Constantine (Dean) Zarkos was just 24 votes behind council member Gerri L. Graham-Mejia.


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